A brief look at the DUI process in Illinois

DIXON – Although Anna Sacco-Miller is charged with two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol, she can be convicted of only one.

Prosecutors often file multiple counts of the same crime, each with varying elements that must be proven, which gives jurors options when determining guilt, and attorneys leeway when working out plea agreements.

Misdemeanor cases rarely make it to the trial phase.

This is Sacco-Miller's first DUI, and she was alone in the vehicle. Upon her arrest, she completed a field sobriety test and submitted to a breath test, Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said.

Here's a brief description of how the process generally works:

The anatomy of a DUI arrest

Drivers suspected of being under the influence are asked to take field sobriety and breath tests. They can refuse; but if they do so and still are arrested, they will be asked to submit to chemical testing.

If the tests indicate a BAC of less than .05, the driver is not considered impaired.

If it is between .05 and .08, there will be no mandatory driver's license suspension, but the driver still could be charged with DUI, and then must await court action.

If the BAC is above .08, the driver will be charged.

Criminal penalties for first-time DUIs

In Illinois, a first-time DUI is a Class A misdemeanor that comes with a minimum 1-year suspension of driving privileges and a suspension of the vehicle registration. The suspension is 2 years if the driver is younger than 21.

The fines and penalties increase if the BAC is higher than .16, and a minimum of 100 hours of community service is imposed, along with fees and fines.

If a child younger than 16 was in the car, it becomes an aggravated DUI, a felony with a potential of 3 to 7 years in prison, or 3 to 14 years if there is a death, or 6 to 28 years if there are multiple deaths.

Mandatory driver's license suspension

In Illinois, there is something called a statutory summary suspension/revocation, which is imposed immediately whenever a driver's blood alcohol content is higher than .08, or if there are drugs in the driver's system, or a combination of both.

If there's a crash that results in personal injury or death, and officers have probable cause to believe drugs or alcohol were involved, they must ask a driver to take a chemical test.

Those who fail or refuse to submit to chemical testing automatically lose their driver's license – separate and apart from whatever penalties, if any, the courts impose – conviction or not.

A driver might challenge the validity of arrest, but that will not not stop the mandatory suspension.

First-timers who agree to be tested and fail lose driving privileges for 6 months, but are eligible for a breath alcohol ignition interlock device after 30 days of the suspension have passed.

If there is a second or subsequent offense within 5 years, he or she loses driving privileges for 1 year and is not eligible for the device.

For those who refuse to be tested, it's an automatic 1-year driver's license suspension, with eligibility for a monitoring device on day 31.

A second or subsequent DUI offense within 5 years and he or she loses driving privileges for 3 years and is not eligible for a monitoring device.

In general, those who are allowed to use the device must pay for its installation and the monthly fees associated with it, usually about $1,400 for a year, and can drive only vehicles that have the device. Some exceptions are made for employment situations.

The end of the suspension does not guarantee you get your driving privileges back. You must attend a formal hearing, and it costs about $580 to get your license reinstated.

Average cost of a DUI

Most first-time DUI offenders get probation rather than jail time.

Should it appear they are getting off easy, though, the Secretary of State's Office warns that, with court fines and fees, legal fees, the cost of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device, the cost to get a license reinstated, the income lost while attending court and the hike in a driver's insurance rates, among other expenses, the average cost of that first DUI is about $16,500.

And that's if there are no injuries or fatalities.

All about DUIs

For more information, go to cyberdriveillinois.com or search the web for "2015 Illinois DUI Fact Book", a 33-page book produced by the Illinois Secretary of State that provides up-to-date information on the state's DUI laws, penalties andd statistics, the average cost of a DUI conviction, victims rights, and more.

DUIs by the numbers

Drivers arrested for DUI, by county, in 2011, 2012, 2013, respectively:

Bureau...52...47...45

Carroll...50...39...50

Lee...118...116...134

Ogle...152...146...125

Whiteside...227...180...145

The average DUI offender is:

• Male; 77 percent of those arrested are men.

• 34; 58 percent are younger than 35.

• Arrested between 11 a.m. and 4 a.m. on a weekend.

• Driving with a BAC of .16, which is twice the legal limit.

Source: Illinois Secretary of State "DUI Fact Book" at cybedriveillinois.com

State offers free emergency contact service

The state's free Emergency Contact Database keeps a record of two emergency contacts for each registered driver or state ID holder.

If you are involved in a crash or an emergency medical situation, law enforcement can quickly notify your family.

The information is kept confidential, and only law enforcement can access it.

Go to cyberdriveillinois.com to submit your information.